Friedman’s

132 W 31st St. New York, NY 10001(212) 971-9400 friedmanslunch.com

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Hark! There is a ray of sunshine in the land of the lost. Yes, in case you didn’t know, Friedman’s has opened another location right by Penn Station, which I resoundingly applaud. Too many restaurants always do the same old tired thing, Upper East, Upper West and something south of 23rd Street. And while that business model certainly must have its merits, so does the notion of spreading the love. And spread it they do, all over Herald Square and all over your plate. Which doesn’t sound as appetizing as I was hoping, but if you’ve ever dined at one of the other locations than you need very little convincing. If not, let me elaborate…

The décor is very inviting and casual with a rustic contemporary flair, which comes from the use of lots of wood, mixed in with stainless steel, wrought iron, a bright tile wall, a high table near the front for walk-ins and a half open kitchen.

The service is friendly and on top of their game, although I do find them to be a touch aggressive when it comes to squeezing by you in the alley by the kitchen. In other words, get the fuck out of their way or you’ll find yourself bent over a nearby table or in another patrons lap.

The food is excellent as always, from the wonderfully fresh squeezed juices in both orange and grapefruit variety (I usually get the two mixed, half and half. I like cutting the sweetness of the orange back a bit with the tartness of the latter. It’s my thing) to the amazing pastrami, caramelized onion and mustard omelet served along side some solid hash browns and a couple of slices of toast. The eggs are always money here though, so no surprise there. In fact, everything is always good here. The only surprise is that upon expansion, Friedman’s still hasn’t lost a step. Oh, there was one other surprise- a nit actually. The bread was served sans jam and with an anemic portion of butter, which would’ve been fine had the bread been so special it didn’t need it, but that was definitely not the case. This bread needed something on top of it more than a nymphomaniac taking Spanish fly.

But that one nit aside, if you’re in need of morning grub and you’re near Penn Station, your ship, bus and train just came in.

4 teeth

Cull & Pistol

75 Ninth Ave. New York, NY 10011(646) 568-1223 • cullandpistol.com

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Can I just say how much I love Chelsea Market? I mean as a foodie it’s like a dream in mall form. Fish markets, Italian markets, spice markets, meat markets, bakeries and restaurants lined up like culinary wishes come true. It’s a bit like Faneuil Hall in Boston, only cooler and less touristy. Not to mention less food courty. If you haven’t been you really need to take a stroll. And if you have been, but haven’t tried one of the restaurants yet, well, you need to do that too (Hale & Hearty Soups withstanding).

I did just that very recently at Cull & Pistol and I have to say, I was pleased & delighted. The vibe is fish shack chic and the service is surprisingly warm and friendly for NYC, from door to table and back again. Not many tables though, so I recommend making a rezzy or going at an off-hour.

Impressing the palate were some of the freshest oysters I think I’ve ever had. Granted I suppose it shouldn’t be that surprising considering they are affiliated with the Lobster Place fish market next door. That said, I didn’t think they had as huge a selection as some other joints in town, but I think they are playing it for quality not quantity and quality they were. My favorite being from Osterville, MA funny enough, which is near and dear to my heart for other reasons as well, I spent many a summer there over the years.

If you don’t dig on the raw variety, however, I highly recommend their fried option, called Pistols on Horseback. Three fried oysters wrapped in prosciutto with crème fraíche and chives sitting atop a mini tortillas. I’m not sure why the name, but I’m pretty damn sure you’ll like ‘em.

The grilled octopus was one of the weaker dishes IMO, but most certainly not bad. Perhaps it’s more due to the fact that I’ve had some pretty astounding plates of pus lately and this was not amongst them.

For the main course I went right into the eye of the storm, ordering the highly acclaimed Connecticut Lobster Roll (pictured), well-knowing that head-to-head with Red Hook Lobster Pound this would most likely pale, and pale it did. Again, most definitely not bad by any distortion of logic, in fact, it was actually very good, but it’s also no Ultimate.

And for dessert, C&P ended strong with a very tasty slice of lemon meringue pie. Not too sweet, with that perfect punch of tartness, which is just how I like it. And like it I did, from the first bit to the last… and from Cull to Pistol… not that I have any idea what that even means.

3 teeth

Bar Suzette

Chelsea Market 425 W 15th St. New York, NY 10011, Chelsea(917) 727-2169

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I know this place is technically a creperie, but having admired this burger from afar for several years, I finally bit the bullet (and the burger, obviously), going all in on Suzette’s crown jewel of overloaded meat. But did I stop there? Oh no. I went truffle fries too! Oh yes. And so close to bikini season too! Because I live on the edge people. You want Timid Foodie, you go elsewhere.

As a name, the Park Royal (pictured) just sounds amazing, right? In fact, the moment I laid eyes on that chalkboard menu I was in. Topped with caramelized onions, bacon, cheese and a fried egg, all stacked on a brioche bun, the Royal isn’t exactly breaking the mold in terms of inventiveness, but they stick the landing on proportions, so the flavor nets out pretty bang-on. It’s messy as all get out though, so move over 5 Napkin, I easily burnt through twice that on this puppy.

And speaking of burning through things, I normally don’t finish my fries because I’m either too full or feeling too guilty to do so, but these were so good I dug deep and closed the deal. Good thing “dad bod” is en vogue, otherwise I’d be Park Royally screwed.

3 teeth*And a half

Mexicue

345 7th Ave. New York, NY 10001(212) 244-0002mexicue.com

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Before you delve into this review, a bit of recalibration might be necessary, because from the name you are probably expecting to hear about a burrito or a taco. Maybe a quesadilla. But that’s not entirely how Mexicue rolls. So neither did I. Instead, I got the brisket chili over a salad comprised of blackened Brussels sprouts and kale. And while it sounds amazing, it only truly reached its potential with a healthy dose of Choula on top. Otherwise it was a desperado in need of some kick.

To drink I had the Arnold Palmero which was also a touch off. Too sweet for my tastes. And I just don’t understand why places do that. Lemonade is inherently tart. Tea is inherently bitter. So sure, maybe you sweeten one or the other to balance things out a touch, but not both! You’re defeating the whole purpose of Arnie Palmer’s invention!

2 teeth

Momoya

185 7th Ave. New York, NY 10011(212) 989-4466momoyanyc.com

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Sushi restaurants are so aplenty in Manhattan it’s hard to stand out from the sea of options between your local neighborhood joint and the cream of the crop, Michelin star destinations like Nobu and Masa.

But somewhere in the middle lies a vast expanse of Japanese eateries that range from cool to campy. Ones that are better than the average bear (to be read like Yogi), but not quite at the top of the game either.

These are the waters in which you will find the likes of Momoya. A very strong middle-of-the-road sushi restaurant that would easily be tops if it were located in Des Moines.

Fresh fish. Beautiful presentations and a sleek, clean décor. And while I found the pieces to be good, I also found them to be a bit miniscule, which only served to throw off the balance with some of their brines, because with such little fish, the brines easily overpowered most of my bites.

Also, while it was a plus that they carried my favorite Japanese dessert, mochi (ice cream dumplings wrapped in rice paper), the flavors were a touch subtle for my tastes.

So a runaway success it was not, but in Chelsea the options for great sushi are slim. Almost as slim as those tiny pieces of sushi, so if you’re not up for a trek over to Ootoya, I’d say pop a squat and enjoy. But definitely don’t go out of your way.

3 teeth

 

The Norwood Club

241 W 14th St. New York, NY 10011 norwoodclub.com

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You have to be a member or know one to get in, from what I understand. Similar in that way to the Soho House, which many people seem to compare it to. That said, I find the comparison odd, as they call this the much more laid back of the two. Which naturally begs the question, how formal is the Soho House? Because I didn’t find The Norwood to be that laid back at all. And now having since been to the Soho House as well, I can honestly say that they are two sides of the same coin. So, if exclusivity is your thang, both will do handsomely.

Now, when I say “exclusivity,” and “not laid back” please don’t read between the lines and think I mean stuffy or snooty. But laid back it’s not. It’s decorated to the nines with beautiful art and priceless, restored moldings and pieces furniture that were painstakingly obsessed over by a task force of interior designers down to the very last detail. If you want laid back go to Hogs and Heifers.

Service was great and as for food and drinks, I can’t really say anything was truly that special with the exception of the sugar bacon. Which is deadly. I had to hold myself back from scarfing down an entire tray full.

But beyond the passed hors d’oeuvres, there was one other dish worthy of mention- the fried oyster salad app. Quite good. So, between the fried oysters and the sugar bacon, I obviously ate light. Luckily large sodas are banned in the city, so I’m not quite a two-seater just yet.

3 teeth

Cinnamon Snail

Chelsea, Midtown West- New York, NY 10001 (862) 246-6431cinnamonsnail.com

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It’s pretty rare to see something get a FULL 5 stars on Yelp. And even more rare when there are over 400 reviews to back it up. Well, here are five knives to go with them.

Granted I was VERY skeptical the first time I stood there in line, but as soon as I got a peek through that window at one of their Gouchujang Burgers (pictured), my skepticism was washed away by a tidal wave of salivating anticipation.

This burger, topped with kimchi and sriracha, is a spice lover’s dream! And as far as veggie burgers go, easily the best I’ve ever had in my life. By a wide margin. And man is it filling. You won’t even miss the beefy absence for a second. Even the bun is exquisite. Just awesome.

But a one trick pony they are not. The maple pecan rice crispy treats are also killer! Probably the best rice crispy treat I’ve ever had.

There are few misses however. Their créme brulée donut pales in comparison to The Doughnut Plant. And while some of their other sandwiches are solid, nothing is at the level of the burger. Also, one small gripe. They charge $3.00 for squirt of lemonade that is essentially served in a small coffee cup. One of the cheapest beverages to make on the face of the Earth. That said, it wasn’t bad, but definitely not worth the money.

Consequently, I’d gladly pay double for the burger, because it is THAT good.

5 teeth

Grimaldi’s

656 Ave of the Americas • New York, NY 10010(646) 484-5665grimaldisnyc.com/manhattan

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I find it fitting somehow that this Grimaldi’s is located in a church, because in New York, pizza is basically a religion. Granted the Limelight is better known as club than a church, but regardless, this is the best thing to happen to the Limelight since ecstasy.

Some advice, however, resist the temptation to try and get too creative or tricky with the pie. This is a place for the purists. Go plain or pepperoni and mushroom. One or two toppings max. Otherwise you cover up what makes these pies stand out above the rest. If you want more inventive pies you’re in the wrong place.

Also, a little known secret- even their cannoli’s are pretty insane. Haven’t had one better since Mike’s in Boston, and that’s saying a lot.

5 teeth

 

Bombay Sandwich Co.

48 W 27th St. New York, NY 10001(646) 781-9756bombaysandwichco.com

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The globalization of food has to be the greatest thing to happen since the industrial revolution. It has changed everything from accessibility to diversity to the creation of hybrid cuisines, which brings me to the Indian sandwich. Indigenous to nowhere, but awesome nonetheless. Case in point, Bombay Sandwich Company.

The Chana Masala (pictured) borrows from its namesake, the traditional New Delhi dish, and puts that glory to work between two slices of ciabatta that could even make MIA go OMG.

Another sandwich reincarnation is the grilled cheese with honey and fennel. It’s so inventive, yet simple, and different from anything else out there. Plus, it packs a nice amount of heat to keep your longings for vindaloo at bay.

Another great sammy of the spice is the Veggie Mash Up. A vegan among vegetarian options that holds its own by combining beets, cabbage, carrots and a few other things into a, you guessed it, mash.

Even their quinoa salad was fantastic. And once again with twist on the norm using chutney of all things. It played such a nice contrast to the lemony dressing, the earthy grain and the leafy kale. So simple, but I’ve never seen it done before and never would’ve even thought to do it. But now I’m about to go all Hindu on my lettuce from here on out.

Though gush as I may, Bombay is not infallible. Skip the sweet potato and kale wrap. It’s just so-so. And the Organic Tofu Masala sandwich was the worst of the lot. However, with the hit ratio above, I’d say just about any sandwich shop in the city would envy that performance.

4 teeth

Melt Shop

55 W 26th St. New York, NY 10010(212) 447-6358meltshop.com

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Upon entering we were immediately greeted by a beggar asking for us to buy him the fried chicken melt. Not the best first impression for a restaurant.

Unfortunately second and third impressions weren’t much better. The second being the fact that they were already sold out of one of the main things I came there to get, the tomato soup. And this is before 1:00pm on cold winter day. How poorly planned can you be?

The third, was the fact that they only have about 4 tables. Which makes it primarily a take out joint- not ideal for a grilled cheese establishment.

So, with three strikes against it before I even took a single bite, this was an uphill battle in the making. And then came strike four. The Buttermilk Chicken was dry and the melt, if you can call it that, was barely blessed with cheese.

Fortunately, I split with a friend, so I also got to try the Shroom and that was actually pretty darn good. As were the tots. Granted, there’s nothing really special about them. They’re just tots. Really makes me question what impresses people these days.

In general, if you crave a good melt, I’d suggest ‘wichcraft, Eataly, Beecher’s or No. 7 Sub, all in the area and all of them MUCH better.

2 teeth